‘The Truth’ is the latest album from Japanese soul singer, NAO YOSHIOKA. Ms Yoshioka describes herself as a “progressive soul-singer” and working in the States, she’s convinced plenty of tastemakers that what the Americans can do, Nao can do just as well… if not better! Proof? Well, she was runner-up at the legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo and has worked with people like Eric Roberson, Lalah Hathaway, Nathan East, Gordon Chambers, Candy Dulfer and Marcus Miller.
She debuted in 2012 with the single ‘Make The Change’ which was followed by the 2015 long player ‘The Light’. Those records won Ms Y plenty of accolades and ‘The Truth’ (her third album) is set to maintain the momentum.
The 11 tracker (on which she worked with Emmy winner Khari Marteen …. CV includes work with The Roots and Jill Scott) certainly fits into the “progressive soul” category. With mostly electronic instrumentation, the soundscape and approach are both quirky and never less than intriguing. For instance the album “outro” doesn’t come at the end. It’s followed by two more tracks. Neo soul? Nu soul? call it what you will…. but there’s plenty of “proper” modern soul here and though Ms Yoshioka’s heritage and pedigree might not be that of the classic soul diva, that category fits her like a glove!
‘The Truth’ offers plenty to please all soul fans. Let’s start with ‘Beautiful Imperfections’ – a tight and neat beater that modern soul DJs and their floor followers will delight in. If ballads are your thing, try ‘Freedom And Sound’ – quirky but lovely and ‘I Love When’ – sensuous and slinky. ‘Spark’ and the fresh James Poyser remix of ‘Make The Change’ are two more album highlights and sure, this isn’t “classic” soul but think Minnie Riperton, Macy Gray and/or a young Jill Scott and you’ll start to see where Nao’s coming from.